Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tracking attendance...the electronic way

Northern Arizona University is spending $75,000 in federal-stimulus money (what????????????) to track student attendance in large, lecture-based classes.


In an era in which public and private institutions are dealing with financial difficulties borne by government-funding cuts, dwindling endowments and pressures to keep tuition costs as low as possible (among many other issues), this institution wants to track student attendance?

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not suggesting that student attendance in classes is not important; and I agree with the argument made in the story to which I provided a link that the more time a student spends in a classroom, the more likely they are to get a better grade in that class (not to mention learn something important).

But, in my opinion, $75,000 in federal-stimulus money -- presuming I correctly understand the parameters of how the money can be spent -- could have been put to much better use through any of the following: installing a new student-use computer lab; upgrading technology; or purchasing equipment leading to a "greener" campus.

And let's not even get into the privacy issues that could be connected to monitoring student attendance.

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